Annette King on Ardern, Peters and the coalition negotiations

It’s not surprising to hear Annette King full of praise for how Jacinda Ardern conducted the coalition negotiations in 2017, but she provides some good insights into how it played out.

NZ Herald – Inside the Coalition talks: How that deal between Jacinda and Winston came about

On election night Annette, despite Labour’s come-back-from-the-dead result, was disappointed. It wasn’t as good as she expected.

On the night Labour won 45 seats, New Zealand First 9 and the Green Party 7, while National had 58 and ACT 1 seat. On those numbers a Labour-New Zealand First-Green government had 61 seats, just enough to govern. But it would have been hard for New Zealand First to opt for that governing arrangement given National was just three seats away from a majority in its own right.

Once the special votes were counted, though, Labour and the Greens picked up a seat each and National dropped two.

So the final numbers read Labour 46, New Zealand First 9 and the Green Party 8. National dropped to 56 and ACT 1, well short of a majority. Between them Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens had 63 seats, increasing the prospects New Zealand First might opt to support a Labour-led Government.

Annette was confident New Zealand First leader Winston Peters would go with Labour.

“I just felt it. The way he was treated [by National]. The way [Parliament’s Speaker David] Carter treated him in Parliament. If I was the Nats I would have spoken to the Speaker and said, ‘Hang on, he’s the leader of a party. You can’t keep on chucking him out and speaking to him in that manner.’

The big unknown, the potential spanner in the works, was the Green Party and its relationship with New Zealand First.

But Annette says [Jacinda] Ardern handled the negotiations with aplomb.

“Watching those negotiations and being in both, the way Jacinda handled the Green negotiations, which were held in the Leader’s lounge in the Opposition wing, and the formal ones [with New Zealand First] on the second floor, and the way she was balancing those and being true to herself and to her values was remarkable. She would not have sold out on the Greens. If Winston had said I’m not having a bar of the Greens or they’re going to have to have nothing, she would not have sold out on them. But she managed to negotiate with the Greens so they got a win without being in the Cabinet but having major Cabinet portfolios outside.”

Annette says what interested her was that the negotiations were all about policy. Contrary to popular opinion, Winston Peters wasn’t that interested in the baubles of power. “He didn’t come in and say I want to be Deputy Prime Minister and want economic development and I want that. He did not. He came in and went through their manifesto portfolio by portfolio.

So was he just offered Deputy and Minister of Foreign Affairs out of the blue?Those baubles must have been negotiated.

“Jacinda pushed back where she didn’t agree and agreed where we did and took copious minutes and then they were shared at the end of the day so we both had the same thing and knew what we were saying. And I just thought we were spending a lot of time on policy, and it seemed to me that the Nats’ time with them was diminishing rather than growing, especially on the last day.”

“He didn’t tell her he was going with her. I think he asked some questions and then a few minutes later, maybe it was minutes, sometime later he came through Bowen [House]. Cameras were following him walking through up to the Beehive theatrette and we’re sitting in Jacinda’s office, some on the couch, some standing up, all watching the television.”

It was theatre a la Winston. It was all about him and his decision – and Ardern and Labour allowed it to happen that way.


Leave a comment


  1. artcroft

     /  8th March 2019

    “He came in and went through their manifesto portfolio by portfolio.” Both of them, Fishing and Horse Racing.

    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      You werent there…
      King was there, so you prefer to believe your own lying eyes.

      have you even read the Coalition document….portfolio by portfolio ..its all there

      • PDB

         /  8th March 2019

        King was there but hardly an impartial judge to what was unfolding. She’s hardly going to come out and say Labour totally caved in to Peters even if true would she?

  2. Gezza

     /  8th March 2019

    Winston needed to know which party would give in to him the most & be the easiest to stuff about later if they dropped in the polls.

    I think he would have been very quick to work that one out. He’s had no qualms about making them look silly on several occasions to remind them who calls the shots & that costing or implemtation planning of any of their policies is not something they’ve ever got any interest in doing.

    It’s interesting to see Annette saying National’s Speaker should have given Peters special licence in the house. Obviously advice taken up by Trevor.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  8th March 2019

      I’ll say.

      I can’t believe that anyone thinks that WP didn’t want to be at least Deputy PM. Annette King’s no fool; how can she believe that he didn’t do this ?

  3. Finbaar Rustle

     /  8th March 2019

    What ever the reason/s it was certainly not policy.
    Winston got into Parliament by being a fake Maori uncle Tom
    for the whites only National party.
    Then waka jumped to the 90% white NZF oldies vote.
    Turei’s pre-election melt down cost the greens bad and
    so by accident rather than design Winston was king maker again.
    Winston has made a career out of playing to old time
    white right wing prejudice and ignorance
    Going with parties he has constantly labelled lefty Labour and goofy Greens
    is completely hypocritical for a man who champions old time principle..
    But above his God King and country mantra facade is his Winston first belief.
    Nationals arrogant entitled redneck’s found that out to their chagrin .
    that Winston the man who talks about principle walks the path of self interest.
    But to be fair all National supporters have always been about self interest.
    Shafted by one of their own certainly wiped the smug smile off their faces.
    Happy days 🙂

    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      Winston didnt ‘waka jump to NZF oldies group’
      he resigned his seat and won it again as an independent and then he created NZ First and won it again..

      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  8th March 2019

        Winston got elected in 1990 on the back of the National parties impossible to deliver promises
        including the promise to cut the surcharge and to halve unemployment. Day after the election Peters and Laws immediately distanced them selves from all the promises and the backlash that ensued. They eventually set up NZF which appealed to old farts and old time prejudice and ignorance. It allowed Winston to be permanently in opposition promising the planet with no responsibility to deliver..
        Even today he can explain failure to deliver on Labour. Why do people keep buying Winstons B?S.
        People still fall for this fake fraudster.
        Lots of angry sanctimonious, self-righteous, complacent, smug, Nat’s fell for Winston’s 1980 snake oil just 18 months ago.
        How dumb can people be.
        40 years of stupidity.
        Go figure.

        • Duker

           /  8th March 2019

          Terrible isnt it ….. a complete charlatan. Winston Churchill was worse , he welched on two parties I hear , backed disastrous policies, including Dardenelles, proposed gassing the Kurds, …the list goes on , had even more half baked ideas in WW2 .
          Yet … Its the old story last long enough and people overlook your flaws

  4. Corky

     /  8th March 2019

    ”Winston got into Parliament by being a fake Maori uncle Tom
    for the whites only National party.”

    Before you make allegations like that, Finbarr Rusty, it might pay to ask Northland Maori what they think of the unpaid work Winston has done for them over the years.

    Why is it that people like you trot out this Uncle Tom bs just because some Maori are prepared to call out what they consider is Maori bs. Or promote a New Zealand perspective, rather than a sole Maori focus as most Maori MPs do?

  5. Kimbo

     /  8th March 2019

    Annette was confident New Zealand First leader Winston Peters would go with Labour.

    “I just felt it. The way he was treated [by National]. The way he was treated [by National]. The way [Parliament’s Speaker David] Carter treated him in Parliament. If I was the Nats I would have spoken to the Speaker and said, ‘Hang on, he’s the leader of a party. You can’t keep on chucking him out and speaking to him in that manner.’

    Tells one all they need to know about how Labour Speakers of the House view their role in general. and explains the activities of King’s longtime colleague, Trevor Mallard, in particular.

    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      All Speakers act pretty much the same in NZ , Australia was worse .. had a recent Federal Speaker busted after she responded to hand signals from the Liberal side.
      Carter here in NZ was even more partisan than Mallard… you are only looking at Question time , half the other time Tolley is in the Chair as deputy speaker.

      • Kimbo

         /  8th March 2019

        Disagree with that, although Carter did not live up to the (admittedly) very high benchmark for neutrality and skill set by Lockwood Smith.

        But at least Mallard is not as bad as the odious Margaret Wilson. Then again, Hanlon’s Razor – never attribute to malice that which can also be explained by incompetence.

        But instructive that King lifts the lid to reveal how and what she expected the cofficially-neutral Speaker to act…if they were officiating while her party was in government…and how she acknowledges National were different – “If I was the Nats I would have spoken to the Speaker…”

        But credit were it is due, as King is a reasonable person and was a moderate MP who didn’t do bile and class warfare – she didn’t label them “Tories”! 😳

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th March 2019

    Winston is no fool. Went thru Labour’s policies weeding out the fishhooks no doubt. Didn’t require 100 working groups. Probably not even his deputy.

    • Duker

       /  8th March 2019

      National initiated over 90 reviews and working groups in its first 6 months, including a Tax working Group, and its most infamous one around 2015 – the meth testing working group which had the meth testing lobby group included.

      • PDB

         /  8th March 2019

        “90 reviews and working groups in its first 6 months, including a Tax working Group, and its most infamous one around 2015”

        Um…hate to break it to you but ‘2015’ is a long way from their ‘first 6 months’.

        • Duker

           /  8th March 2019

          That they were still doing them by that time tells you something… but since you asked Ill give the early list taken from announcements from that time
          Review of Customer Guarantees Act to cover vehicles through online tender
          Review of Import health standard for horses
          Taskforce to speed up emergency departments
          Investigation into load bearing timber frames
          Windfarm Board of Inquiry
          Planning for new police
          Overhaul of RMA & Aquaculture
          RMA Technical Advisory Group
          Taxi Industry Safety review
          Criminal Procedure (Simplification) Project
          NCEA standards review
          Review the Sentencing Act as it relates to violent crimes against children
          Ministerial Inquiry into the disclosure of the funding shortfall in ACC’s Non-Earners Account
          select committee to review the Emissions Trading Scheme
          Auditor General initiate an inquiry into the Ministry of Education school bus transport tendering process
          Regulatory review programme to identify and remove inefficient and superfluous regulation
          Review ECE regulations
          Prisoner Classification
          report on Waterview alternatives
          Ministerial Group to advise on improving the quality and performance of the public health system
          Enabling Territorial Authorities Act 2008 to be reviewed
          Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues
          Property Managers Review
          Review of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
          MSD review loan shark advice
          State Services Commissioner to establish failings into the management of offenders on parole.
          Prime Ministers Summit on Employment
          Ministerial Working Party on Electricity
          Methane emissions workshop
          Pacific Division Review
          Review of red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy
          Ministerial panel to review the Foreshore and Seabed Act
          Review Building Act
          Overseas Investment Act review
          Fisheries 2030
          Review of improvements that can be made to the administration of student loans and PAYE.
          Review into the Securities Act
          Review of section 92A of the Copyright Act 1994
          6 Job Summit Work Streams
          Drinking Water standards
          Local Government Act
          Nursing Council review
          investigate finfish and oyster farming opportunities in Northland
          Blue Cod Management Group
          Joint work programme to support rural GP’s.
          Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce
          Expert panel to oversee probation
          Review of legal aid
          review into electoral finance reform
          Technical Advisory Group advising on Electricity Market
          National Standards Reference Group
          National hui to progress Treaty settlement goal
          New Zealand and Japan are establishing a joint Officials Group
          Expert Panel on Veterans’ Health
          Maori reference group to develop a programme of action into Family Violence
          Defence Review
          Review of business assistance
          National Community Organisation Grants Scheme Committee
          Taxi Industry Safety
          Department of Corrections to review its policy into Razor Blades
          Auckland Social Policy Forum
          Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues
          Maori Advisory Committee to advise the Commissioner of Patents
          Review interface issues between the Historic Places Act and the Resource Management Act
          Review of how designations work under the RMA
          Tax Working Group
          Review of Māori Television Service Act
          Commissioner for Financial Advisers appointed
          Pig farm investigation
          Chief Science Advisor
          review of the 2005 Code of Welfare for pigs
          National Infrastructure Advisory Board
          Auckland Transition Agency
          Holidays Act Review
          Panel to help improve access to high cost medicines

          These were compiled under the same criteria national complied labours list of reviews.

          My favourite was ‘review of the 2005 Code of Welfare for pigs’ , which of course was a way of winding back pig welfare issues to benefit the pig farmers

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  8th March 2019

            One was farrowing crates. Nobody likes these, but they did prevent squashed piglets.


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